May 25, 2018
Fort Couch team wins state STEM Design Challenge
A team of seventh graders from Fort Couch Middle School earned first place honors at the statewide 2018 STEM Design Challenge on May 18, 2018, at Harrisburg University. Team members include Matthew Earley, Phillip Markovitz, Quinton Miller, Evan Sarkett and John Scherer.
Sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific, the STEM Design Challenge tasks teams of students in grades 4-8 with brainstorming, developing and implementing a solution to an engineering problem using K’Nex building materials. Teams were required to use at least one motor and could not exceed 1,400 K’Nex pieces.
“The team also had to create a blueprint and journal about their structure,” Jason O’Roark, gifted education teacher, said. “At competition, they had two hours to build their structure from their blueprints and then present their design solution to a team of judges.”
This year’s challenge was the following:
Thermo Fisher Scientific has asked your team for help developing a new product for your home. This product can be anything that you can use in your home and it must be environmentally friendly. Thermo Fisher Scientific is working to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. This product could be (but not limited to) a new way to power your home, a new type of appliance, or a new gadget for home entertainment. Be creative!
The Fort Couch team developed and built a robotic arm that could help around the house by doing dishes, cooking and many other things while being powered by a piezoelectric floor throughout the house.
“The students did a significant amount of research into piezoelectric crystals and utilized the engineering design process while building their design,” Mr. O’Roark said.
More than 1,000 teams competed at regional STEM Design Challenges held throughout Pennsylvania for the opportunity to advance to the state-level competition. Student teams competed within two grade level divisions, grades 4-5 and grades 6-8 and were judged on creativity, teamwork, challenge success, design and presentation. The top team in each division at each regional competition advanced to the state competition. The Fort Couch team punched its ticket to states by placing first at the regional competition on March 7, 2018, at Duquesne University.